Honorably Mentioned #2
Dallas Keuchel by Elliott Jenkins
The Houston Astros drafted Dallas Keuchel in the 7th round of the 2009 Draft out of the University of Arkansas. He debuted in 2012 and turned in largely forgettable seasons in 2012 and 2013. However, as he lowered his FIP, refined his control, and got a little help from Brent Strom, he quickly became one of the brightest stories of the 2014 season. Keuchel won a Gold Glove and a Fielding Bible Award for his 2014 efforts, but he did not stop there.
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To the surprise of even die-hard Astros fans, Keuchel emerged as a legitimate ace in 2015. He led the American League in WAR for pitchers (7.2), WHIP (1.017), innings pitched (232), shutouts (2), batters faced (911), and wins (20). His 7.2 WAR was 4th-highest all-time among Astros pitchers behind Larry Dierker, Mike Scott, and Roger Clemens. It was also 5th-highest in the AL, behind only Mike Trout, Josh Donaldson, Kevin Kiermaier, and Lorenzo Cain. Keuchel also finished 8th all-time in single-season WHIP (1.017) and 10th all-time in Astros career K/BB ratio (2.753).
Keuchel was voted to and started the 2015 All-Star Game. In November, King of weak contact and groundball percentage was voted the AL Cy Young winner ahead of the Oakland Athletics’ Sonny Gray and the Toronto Blue Jays’ David Price. Keuchel became the third Astro to win the award after Mike Scott in 1986 and Roger Clemens in 2004. Not bad company in the slightest.
So why honorable mention for only the third Astro to win the Cy Young award? We certainly discussed it at length. On what metrics and what grounds do we rank someone over our bearded 27-year-old poster child of the future? Would it be a little overeager to put Keuchel high on this list? Maybe. Is he really better than JR Richard? Tough to say at this point. But with his Cy Young award in hand, Dallas could become the pitcher who tops this list. Instead, consider this list a collection of the Titans and misfits that have masterfully painted the Astros’ illustrious history.
It certainly stands to reason that Keuchel’s progression and season are no flukes by any stretch of the imagination. The Astros are here to stay, and Keuchel has many years to prove that he can excel beyond every single legend on this list.
Next: 10th Best All-Time Astros Starter